As you probably remember from other blog articles, I am a firm believer that living generously has significant benefits. Research continues to substantiate that notion. I recently found another article in, of all places, A Motley Fool Company related website, that named “The 8 Biggest Benefits of Being Generous” https://www.fool.com/the-ascent/banks/articles/8-biggest-benefits-being-generous/. Among the things listed were more friends, happier with career, better physical and mental health, and higher self-esteem.
We often think about generosity in financial terms. Historically, our “generosity” was calculated at tax time by adding up our charitable giving from the previous year so we’d get our allotted tax deduction. With our current tax code, it’s less likely you need to endure this exercise.
However, living generously is much broader than simply giving money to charity. During the last few months, while limiting my physical distance from others, I was struck by the power of relational generosity. I’m defining relational generosity as intentionally making contact with another person for the primary purpose of extending the personal relationship. During this time of physical distancing, I initiated numerous phone calls, emails, text messages and even one snail mail letter (remember those, you need an envelope and a stamp). Some of these connections were work related while others were of a personal nature.
What I found fascinating was it didn’t really make a difference what the nature of the interaction was, I almost always left feeling invigorated. I don’t have any accurate way to determine how the other person felt, but I have a sense they came away feeling refreshed as well. As I have been thinking about my COVID-19 take-aways, a better understanding of relational generosity is near the top of my list.
This experience has taught me that intentionally reaching out to others can build hope, purpose, and an expanded picture of the future. I’m currently working on a plan to be more relationally generous in the future.
What stories can you share with us about how you have experienced relational generosity in recent months?